Racine leaders clarify stance on veterans in police department after community pushback

NOW: Racine leaders clarify stance on veterans in police department after community pushback

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A recent task force report on reforming Racine police included one idea from community members to "exclude ex-military due to a possible militaristic approach.”

That caught the attention of some community members, who were not happy about the prospect. Racine Mayor Cory Mason said that was just a suggestion from community members included in the report. It is not city policy, nor is it an idea he agrees with.

“To be clear, the department should not, does not, cannot discriminate against veterans in its hiring,” Mason said.

The group Military Talent Partners said the language perpetuates stereotypes against veterans. They want an apology and the report taken down.

“You believe in it enough to publish it on your public website," Military Talent Partners President Natalie Oliverio said of the city. "It’s disappointing to see a city government stand behind such an intentional bias.”

Racine Police Chief Art Howell said veterans bring valuable skills to the police department.

“You have people who put themselves and their lives on the line for other people," Howell said. "Not only do they have leadership skills, but you have other field skills that would be useful."

Mason said even if city leaders did want to exclude veterans from the force, it would be against equal opportunity laws.

“The city takes its non-discrimination ordinances and state and federal laws very seriously, so we want to build a more equitable and inclusive workplace.”

Mason added the city never followed the trend of militarization by purchasing large amounts of armored vehicles from the federal government that some other departments around the country took part in

You can read the full statement from Chief of Police Art Howell, below:

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